Is My Dog in Pain?

Do You Think Your Dog Is In Pain?

dog out window

Determining whether or not your dog is in pain can sometimes be difficult. Signs of pain don’t always present themselves in the most direct ways. As your pet’s guardian and advocate, I’m sure you woud want to know the telltale signs of pain in your dog. Pain is a signal that something is wrong and often needs prompt and precise medical attention. We’ve compiled a short guide to help you find the answer to the very common question – Is my dog in pain?


One of the most common signs of pain in dogs is vocalization. Dogs vocalize to communicate something to other animals and humans alike. They may try to communicate to you through vocalizing that they are in pain. Your dog may howl, whine, cry, and whimper to let you know he’s in pain. Similarly, your dog may growl or bark in an aggressive manner if they are in pain, too.


Signs of self-protection may also indicate that your dog is in pain. Self-protection is any behavior or action that your dog displays that tells you he doesn’t want to be touched, picked up or even approached. Your dog may try to protect, or guard the possible area or limb of his body that is causing the pain. Favoring a limb or not putting weight on a specific limb or body part is also an indication that your dog is in pain.

Self–Soothing or Self–Mutilation

A dog that is in pain may also self–soothe or self–mutilate. This may look different depending on which your dog does. However, some level of licking, biting, scratching, or chewing on an area or areas of the body may indicate your dog is suffering. Often times a dog over–soothes and the result is self–mutilation. These behaviors can lead to other problems, such as injury, infection or more pain, on top of the initial reason that your dog was in pain to begin with.


Another sign of pain in dogs is a change in their daily habits. Dogs really are creatures of habit. If they begin to change the ways in which they do things, you might want to try to discover why. Some changes in daily habits may be very apparent or subtle – meaning, if your dog stops eating, eats more, withdraws, becomes more needy, sleeps more or even sleeps less, there’s a possibility that he or she is in pain. Additionally, if your dog has changes in his house training habits, such as suddenly going potty inside the house or if bathroom frequency increases or decreases, your dog may be in pain.

If your dog is in pain, he may display any, or all, of the above signs to communicate to you that he’s in pain. Always err on the side of caution when determining if you need to seek medical advice. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when any level of pain is involved. Nobody likes to be in pain, dogs included.

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